Virtual assistants expected to top virtual reality in holiday sales

Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:56pm EST
 
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By Deborah M. Todd

(Reuters) - Virtual assistants are set to pummel virtual reality headsets in the fight for consumer dollars this holiday season, while smartwatches drive wearable sales. Drones may fly under the radar, though.

Interviews with nearly two dozen analysts indicate high hopes for holiday electronics sales, but estimates of what will be the hit have changed.

VIRTUAL REALITY

After dubbing virtual reality as the "next mega tech theme" in a May 2015 industry report, brokerage Piper Jaffray will cut its 2016 estimate for sales of VR headsets by 65 percent to 2.2 million units in an as yet unpublished report.

Sales of high-end VR headsets including Facebook Inc's (FB.O: Quote) $599 Oculus Rift and Sony Corp's (6758.T: Quote) $399 PlayStation VR headset altogether will be about 300,000, reflecting supply constraints at Sony and the technological reality of Oculus and HTC Corp's (2498.TW: Quote) $799 Vive: only about 6 million to 7 million computers globally can run the software, said Paul Lee of Deloitte UK.

"With high-end VR for a family of four one might be looking at $10,000," said Lee.

Samsung Electronics Co's (005930.KS: Quote) under $100 Gear VR headset, which turns a phone into a VR device, will be the volume winner, because it will be given away with phones.   Continued...

 
A man plays a video game with the Oculus Rift VR headset at the E3 Electronic Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo